Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

Reply to comment

ehinchcl's picture

In reading all the above

In reading all the above comments, there are a few things that I found interesting. I wanted to briefly touch on the whole placebo thing-- simply because its gotten so much press above. I think that money is one of the biggest issues for me; otherwise, I'm really pretty okay with doing what Professor Grobstein said and prescribing something that "has been shown to work in 60% of the cases" even if it has been shown to work because of the placebo effect. I think that this whole concept of "placebo" is a little skewed, as has been mentioned above, because if it is indeed doing something then its working and therefore not a placebo as we would generally define it. I think we need to take a second to realize exactly how little we really know about the brain, and the mechanisms of action that a placebo might take. I sort of like to compare a placebo to CBT (hang on, before all you CBT supporters cut the idea down): I think that a placebo allows the brain to in a way 'confront itself.' Because the brain thinks its healing, it actually IS healing-- our brain is an incredibly powerful tool in its own ability to change its health/state. However, to go back to my original point, the issue of cost becomes a problem for me. I feel that a placebo effect will diminish if people don't feel like they have to pay too much for it (since i think payment and drugs are intimately linked in our cultural perception of diagnosis/treatment), but I can't rightfully charge people a lot for a sugar pill. dilemma...

to switch to another topic, the other thing that i want to stress, which was talked about a bit, is this idae that pain in the brain without a bodily source is just as important. We simply do not know enough about the brain to decide what pain merits diagnosis and what is "phantom"-- and why is phantom perceived as less important when it is an actually phenomenon? Since we saw a Grey's anatomy clip in class (man sawing his own foot off), the other side of the story is a different grey's anatomy episode where a drug addict manages to convince everyone of his back pain and get some serious pain killers. I think this is a big source of the dilemma over treating pain that cannot be "diagnosed"- the person might be lying to us. Yes, I admit this is a big problem and I can't really think of a good solution to it... but I think that, much like all mental states, pain is an interpretable thing and is different for everyone. Liz and I were talking in class about how, for a pain study that she had to run, some people found a hot pad against the arm much more painful than an ice bath... and visa versa. I think we need to realize that there is a spectrum for pretty much all mental experience and try to treat and diagnose accordingly.

Reply

To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.
5 + 12 =
Solve this simple math problem and enter the result. E.g. for 1+3, enter 4.